If you are a pet owner, when you decide to put your house on the market, you need to do some serious house cleaning and repair work before you can command a competitive price.
You want buyers to be able to picture themselves in your home. This means giving them the space to envision living there, space that is free from too many personal things. That includes pets and their toys. So how do you go about selling your property when you have pets? Here are some general tips that may or may not apply to your particular situation.
One important thing to keep in mind is that your animal has its own needs, needs that are best discussed with your veterinarian. Talk to him or her about what you plan on doing and how it will work with your specific pet or pets. This is especially important when your pet is older and may not adjust well to change. Selling a home can be just as stressful for the pet as the home owner.
Temporarily relocating the petsmay or may not be something you are willing to do, but it is easier to show-and-sell your home (and keep it clean), if your pets are away when buyers arrive. If you have a friend or family member that you trust with Fido, it will give you the chance to eliminate all the signs of having a pet in the house and prevent the pet from causing further issues. Some folks consider the presence of a pet a turn-off when shopping for a house.
When selling a home with pets, at the very least, you should remove them from your home while showing the property. All the cute things your dog does will not help you sell your home and only serve to remind the potential buyer that pets have lived there.
Ideally, you should have your Realtor show the home while you and your pet are away. Having a pet in the house or yard can create complications for your Realtor during a showing, and puts your pet at risk of accidentally running away. There are also liability issues at stake. While your dog or cat may generally be friendly, they could potentially be hostile toward people they don’t recognize.
It may not always be possible to remove a pet from a home. In this case, your next best option is to put them in a contained space and let a buyer and their Realtor know ahead of time or buy a pet crate to house them. Your pet may not be accustomed to this, and while you love treating your animals like one of the family, sometimes this is what it takes when selling your home.
As much as we love our pets, they are still animals and pet damage is never attractive when selling a home. Dogs and cats will inevitably destroy something—carpets, furniture, hardwood flooring, walls, doors, turf in your yard and fencing. This damage should be repaired before showing the home. This may require some investment on your part. Regardless of repair costs, the value you will get for your house will be worth the expense.
Whileit is possible to get used to pet smells over time, new visitors to your home will likely notice the smells right away. This is something you want to avoid. In fact, this may be the single most important tip for selling a home with pets.
Our sense of smell has a powerful effect on our emotions, memory and perceptions of things. An initial urine odor upon entering a house is sure to stick in the buyer’s mind, and he or she will likely deduct the cost of carpet replacement immediately from an offer as a result. A strong odor is in fact one of the top reasons a buyer will pass on a home.
Have your carpet and flooring professionally cleaned, with a focus on removing pet odors. If the stains or odors are too bad, you may need to replace the damaged carpet.
Pick up messes in the back yard and have any missing or damaged sod replaced and any other repairs made.
You may pick up after your pet regularly or have a cat that causes very little impact to your yard. However, many home owners give their pets free reign of the yard. This is a great life for dogs and cats, but can undermine the appearance of your lawn. The yard is just as important to some buyers as the interior of the home.
You want buyers to be as unaware of your pets as possible. If they ask the question, you must answer honestly. However, you can often avoid this topic altogether by taking necessary steps like those listed above. In addition, put away pet toys, bedding, litter boxes and food, preferably at a location other than your home.
Some Realtors even recommend removing photos in which your pet appears and to make sure the animal does not show up in marketing materials for your home. Like other forms of home staging, removing extra pet clutter is important when selling your property.
Selling a home with pets takes work, but is worth it in the long run. You may do all of these things and still have buyers inquire about pets. Sometimes it’s impossible to hide all the evidence and sometimes they ask anyway. Even if this happens, you have still done everything necessary to return your house to its appearance before you had a pet.
For more information about Texas real estate, please visit HAR.com.
Marla Lewis is 2021-22 President of the Houston Black Real Estate Association (HBREA).